This web page contains the logs of the first leg of a 25 day singlehanded sailing trip with S/Y Thetis in the Eastern Greek Aegean and the Northern Dodechanese. This leg took 6 days and originated from Samos Marina and ended in Emborio, Kalymnos. The places visited are: the islands of Fourni (Kambi, Petrokopio), Marathi, and Levitha. The logs are illustrated with photographs and maps. They also include links to other related web sites.
Saturday September 20, 2008, Day 9
I finally finished all my errands in Samos, closed the house in Kalami and moved back in Thetis. The plan was to sleep here in the marina and sail in the morning for Fourni. Turgut and Arzu Ayker will also come there with New Life II.
In preparation I changed the oil as the new engine was near the 50 hr operation mandated for the first oil change. This fairly simple task turned out to be difficult because the hose of my small hand operated oil pump was too thick for the dip-stick tube. Fortunately my friend Andrew from S/Y Cresswell Jenny whom I had met in 2006 in Fourni happened to have a similar oil pump with a thinner hose which he kindly let me use. That task accomplished, I filled the water tanks. I also equalized the service batteries.
It rained, sometimes heavily, all night and it was cold.
Sunday September 21, 2008, Day 10
I departed the marina, for the last time in 2008, at 0940 but I had to stop just outside the marina to climb into the dinghy and pump out the accumulated rain water. The wind was 10-20 knots from the NE. This allowed us to sail with the mainsail, still on the second reef, and 75% of the headsail. Around 1100, when we were near Samiopoula, as usual there, the wind backed to 10-25 knots from the NW. We managed to continue sailing although with this variable strength of the wind we were some times making 7 knots and others barely 3.5.
I received an SMS from Turgut that they had left Çesme but for some inexplicable reason I could not reply. I called Vodafone customer service but they were not very helpful. Later I called Turgut. He estimated that they will be in Fourni around 1830 but I supposed it will be later. We agreed to meet in either Kambi or in the lovely Petrokopio cove. They had not been before to either place.
After rounding Cape Agridio, the southernmost point of Fourni, I lowered the sails and motored the rest of the way to Kambi. However, it was very gusty and there was only one mooring available (in the past there used to be 3). It was not clear either, if that mooring did belong to the restaurant or to a fishing boat. At any rate, it would not do for two boats in these gusty conditions. So, I headed back to Petrokopio [37° 33.6' N 26° 29.3' E] where we arrived at 1540 after 29.2 M. I anchored without any problem in 6 m depth on a patch of sand and let out 30 m of chain.
It was too cold for the tent. Before leaving Pythagorio I had bought a new control box for the windlass. Now I wired it and tested it. I also snorkeled to check the anchor. It was well set. In Samos I had bought 4 turkey cutlets. These I now pre-cooked, wrapped them in tin foil, and stored them in the refrigerator so that I can finish cooking them, one at a time, when I will need them.
New Life II arrived promptly at 1840, only 10 minutes later than Turgut’s estimate. On the way, near Ikaria, they had caught a large and beautiful tuna. It was too big to be dealt in the boat so we decided to take it tomorrow to Marathi and let kyria Katina, who could do it real justice, prepare it for us. After this, we formulated our plan. Thetis will take the tuna and sail directly for Marathi. New Life, that had not cleared Greek customs after all in Chios, will first go to Patmos to do so and then join Thetis in Marathi. The problem with this plan was that none of the cruising guides lists Patmos as a port of entry into Greece. But, Turgut remembers having cleared there about 10 years ago. Just to make sure, I called the Limenarchio (Greek Coast Guard) in Patmos and asked. They assured me that a boat can indeed clear there into Greece. We shall see.
We had dinner in New Life II: a very tasty potato salad and baked beans. These Arzu had brought from their house in Izmir. The dinner was complemented with red wine, vintage 2007 from Kalami. Along with the food and drink there was a lot of convivial conversation and exchange of news. The last time that we three were together was in January in Madras, India where we were all attending my daughter’s Corinna and Siva’s wedding. But this is another story.
Monday September 22, 2008, Day 11
Today’s forecasts called for very light westerly winds and a possible rain and thunderstorms. The night was cold, had to use 2 blankets, but not as cold as Saturday night in Pythagorio. The barometer now was 1007 mB, up from the 1003 of Saturday. The humidity is 68% and at 7:30 AM the cabin temperature was 20 °C (68 °F).
I went ashore with the dinghy for an 1 hr walk up the steep dirt road. When I reached the main, paved, road I witnessed a scene, which I suppose is an everyday one, but to me was indicative of the mixture of old and new which is typical of rural Greece. A car came along, stopped, and 2 men got out. They walked a short distance to a rough stone enclosure. Soon there were the sounds of many bells. The two small wooden gates of the enclosure opened, one to the N and the other to the S, and two herds of goats and sheep were herded out by the two men, now holding staffs and being transformed from urbanites to shepherds. It was very pastoral. I only wished I had the camera with me.
After I returned to Thetis and puttered for a while I noticed signs of life from New Life. I went over with the dinghy and, after photographing it, received the fish that I was to transport to Marathi while New Life sailed to Patmos for clearing customs. They departed at 1030 and Thetis followed them at 1040. The wind was almost non existent, about 2 knots SW, and the sky was overcast. We motored, as this was the only option. On the way, we were hit by a very strong shower. Tremendous amount of water fell within just a few minutes. The wind rose to 10-12 knots and the visibility dropped down to zero. I turned on the radar and with it I could see beyond the stormy region. Soon we were clear of it. While the autopilot steered the boat I had lunch.
We arrived in Marathi [37° 22' N 26° 43.6' E] at 1400 after 16.2 M where without any difficulty I caught one of the moorings. I think that I am getting very good at this, especially when there is absolutely no wind. As soon as Thetis was secured, I lowered the outboard to the dinghy and went ashore with the fish which I entrusted to Katina’s capable hands. She, after it is cleaned, will wrap it in parchment paper and bake it very slowly in the wood oven. It promises to be good.
There were a lot of charter boats, mostly populated by Swedes, and more kept coming. When only two mooring were left free and I was contemplating to tie the dinghy on one of them and reserve it, New Life II glided in the cove. It was 17:45. Turgut came aboard Thetis and we had an ouzo. It turned out that they did not clear customs after all in Patmos. The custom officers were on strike and the custom house was closed. Turgut took a picture on the notice posted on the custom house door as evidence of his frustrated attempt to comply with the law.
Later we all went ashore to Pandelis. As expected we had a great dinner. Appetizers consisting of saganaki (grilled cheese), taramosalata (spread of fish roe ), tzatziki (yogurt spread with garlic and crushed cucumbers), and a plate of the most delicious tiny fried shrimps. These were followed by Turgut’s tuna along with freshly fried, in olive oil, potatoes. Several bottles of white wine from the Carras vineyard accompanied all this. The fish was was very good indeed but there was no way we could eat more then a small part of it. We left most of it to the establishment although Toola insisted that we take two containers of it, one for each boat. While eating the Swedes, about 40 of them, arrived and sat at the large table waiting for them. They had guitars, an accordion, a keyboard, and a clarinet. They ate, drunk, played the instruments, sang, recited poetry (in Swedish), and danced. It was very jolly. All, including us, had a wonderful time.
Tuesday September 23, 2008, Day 12
Today’s sunrise was gorgeous. The sky was mostly clear with a few scattered clouds. The sun rose from behind Arki island with marvelous shades of red, gold, and emerald background. There was no wind. Turgut and I went ashore and walked around the S side of the island. It was very nice early in the morning with both rocks and plants newly washed by yesterday’s downpour. On the way back we said goodbye to Pantelis and Katina. She, as she usually does, gave us one of her freshly baked loaves of whole wheat bread.
On 1015 I cast off and headed for Levitha, New Life II to follow a little later. The wind now was a light WSW breeze of 2-8 knots. Although I was not too hopeful, I raised the mainsail and shook off its reefs. We motor-sailed the 26.6 M to Levitha (Λέβιθα) [37° 00.2' N 26° 28.1' E] at 1445. I caught one the moorings with ease. New Life arrived a few minutes later and caught an adjacent mooring.
As the afternoon progressed more and more yachts arrived, eventually all the moorings were taken and there were 11 boats in the cove. In the early evening Manolis, Mr Kambosos’ son, came with their launch to collect the mooring fees. He immediately recognized me. Thetis is not charged for a mooring since her skipper always goes to dinner in the neat little taverna that the Kambosos family maintains in their hamlet. Arzu and I played a game of backgammon. She trounced me.
Around 6 PM the Aykers came aboard Thetis and we had the obligatory ouzo. After that we went ashore and walked to the hamlet for dinner. Mr. Dimitris, the paterfamilias of the Kambosos clan, is now fine and completely recovered from his heart attack of last October. He is still shaken. We talked a lot about it since although we are about the same age, I am an 11 year heart attack survivor. I assured him that a good and active life is still possible after such an attack. His wife, Irene, was also very glad to see me. Manolis served us. We had a salad with their homemade cheese, delicious grilled keftedes (meat patties), and tzatziki (yogurt spread with garlic and crushed cucumbers). These were followed by baked goat chops (they raise all the animals here) along with a bottle of Naoussa Boutari red wine.
After our meal we walked back illuminating the rocky path with our flashlights since the moon had not yet risen. It was a pleasant and quiet night.
Wednesday September 24, 2008, Day 13
Early in the morning, I rowed over to New Life to see if Turgut wanted to go for a walk. I could not see any activity. I called softly but there was no answer. So, I went off by myself. An hour later, as I was returning I saw New Life’s dinghy on the pier and there was Dimitris who told me that my friend was looking for me and that he walked towards the hamlet hoping to find me. Dimitris was in a talkative mood. We talked about life, death, health, children, grandchildren, etc. All the important things. Here is a man who has been healthy and vigorous all his life encountering a major medical problem for the first time. It is a shock! I know.
Back on Thetis I looked at the Navtex. This is the only system that works here as there is no GSM/GPRS signal. The forecast called for increasing ESE winds becoming quite strong by the late afternoon. After conferring with the Aykers we decided not to go S to Astypalea as we were thinking yesterday but to go to Kalymnos instead and stop at either Telendos or at Emborio. We departed at 1030. The wind was 8-10 knots from the NE, not too favorable but nevertheless I opened the genoa and motor-sailed. I was too lazy to raise the mainsail. After 21.9 uneventful miles we arrived in Kalymnos. Telendos was exposed to the NE wind so we headed to Emborio [37° 02.7' N 26° 55.6' E] where I easily caught one of Barba Nikolas’ moorings. New Life II caught the other one. It was 1430.
The sun was nice and strong and I put up the tent and spent the afternoon lazily reading in the cockpit. Later we all went ashore and did some light provision shopping and a longish walk up the hill. In the evening we went for dinner to Barba Nikolas. Pavlos, the proprietor, greeted us very warmly. As he had not seen me for two years now he was wondering if I would show up this year. He served a Kalymnian salad (Greek salad over a Kalymnian hard tack), fresh calamari, a portion of mousaka to be shared and two portions of lamb chops.
Thursday September 25, 2008, Day 14
It was a slow starting morning. It rained lightly for about ¾ of an hour. New Life decided, because of the rain, not to sail for Nisyros as was planned but to spend the day here. The day improved and the sun started peaking out from behind the clouds. The forecast called for northerly winds tomorrow which will increase on Saturday but not to gale force as was previously forecasted. For today the forecast was for variable wind of force 2-4 on the Beaufort Scale, clouds, and more light rain.
Later in the morning Turgut and I went ashore for a longish walk. At the end of the walk we sat at Captain Costas and had a juice and coffee. The proprietor there, whom I had met few years ago, was very friendly and refused payment. We had a light lunch in New Life. I spent the afternoon reading and swimming.
In the late evening we went ashore and had dinner at Captain Costas where we ate χταποδοκεφτέδες (chtapodokeftedes - fried octopus balls, a Kalymnia specialty), μαριδάκια (maridakia - tiny fried fish), salad, and a wonderful fish soup.
The Aykers decided to skip Nisyros after all and to sail tomorrow directly to Datça where they will be meeting some friends with whom they will be sailing together on Saturday to the Fetyie area. I may sail tomorrow back to Xerocambos in Leros which is also very well protected from the north winds.